Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


 

1.

Nicholas James (Nick) Day, Horfield, Bristol, England (nicholas.day@def.bae.co.uk)

Nick was born December 30, 1957, in Woking, England. He holds a graduate degree in physics, and is currently a systems engineer in a design department in the aerospace industry. He is a "casual member" of various local informal folk groups and he participates in various classical orchestral, choral and chamber music activities.

HERITAGE, HISTORY, LESSONS, FAVORITE TUNE

Both of Nick's parents are British, from Plymouth and Treherbert. His father played the violin, although his learning was interrupted by army service time. Some distant great aunts also played. Nick began playing the instrument at age seven, at school. He took classical lessons for about eight years, though he calls the benefit "dubious". He has also learned by listening to and watching fiddlers, after many years of being coached in orchestral and chamber playing. He has attended folk dancing weekend festivals with associated instrumental sessions. He believes Brighton Camp was the first fiddle tune he played. He learned it from friends who were playing for a dance. He names Liverpool Hornpipe as his current favorite tune, although he may not want to be pinned down to one tune. He has not heard many other fiddlers play it. When asked about his favorite fiddler, Nick answers: "[I'm] not keen on this ranking thing -- everybody's got something."

TYPES OF TUNES, INSTRUMENTS, VENUES

Nick likes to play "anything danceable". He also plays viola and prefers a rock group for accompaniment! Not surprisingly, Nick has played for dances, and frequently plays in pubs and dance halls; he has also played in church and at weddings "classical at service and during celebrations after [and] folk fiddling for dances after". He plays in a band, "but I'd rather not name it -- not for tax avoidance but because we haven't evolved a name that isn't offensive... which kind of rules out playing for school parties etc."

STYLE

Nick says his style is "mainly the English folk tradition". Early influential musicians: "Phew! It's been 'collected' on multiple occasions since the time of Playford but happily thrives nonetheless in an aural tradition as various..." Nick feels there are as many fiddle styles as there are players. He notes (not happily) that Irish music dominates where he lives, "though in the circles in which I move there's a lot of tunes played for Cotswold and Northwest (of England) Morris teams".

THE INSTRUMENT

The late Harry Runnacles of Stowmarket, Suffolk made Nick's violin in 1977. It is a Strad-"ish" style with a distinctive scroll. Its sound is open, strong, and it projects well. Nick uses a Yehudi Menuhin shoulder rest, and prefers real gut strings, though they don't last. He likes Pirastro Eudoxa strings, but for durability and volume he uses Thomastik Dominants. Nick's bow was made by Garner Wilson -- it is a modern wood bow with unusual figuring in the grain. Nick would love to collect violins (except for the expense) and would learn more about setup and repairs if he had time. He says he does "bodge up the odd case repair here and there".

WHY DO YOU PLAY THE FIDDLE?

"I don't know but I can't stop now!"

THE TUNES

Nick has recorded Winster Processional and Rattling Bog, (The) Oyster Girl, and Fiery Clockface (all traditional, to his knowledge). He learned them while playing for his local Morris Side and in the Folk Dance Band that grew from an associated group, over the last eight years.